Antique and Vintage Snake Jewelry. post 16
Since the days of the Garden of Eden, snakes have been deeply imbedded in our psyches. For many of us in so-called "western civilisations", snakes embody all that is evil and dangerous. However, not only other societies, but many in our own, regard snakes as symbols of good luck, eternity and wisdom. In fact, tomes have been written about them and their myriad attributions and qualities.
Prince Albert gave Queen Victoria a snake ring as an engagment ring. This sparked off a rage in snake engagement rings, often with a birthstone in the center of it's head (Victoria's was an emerald). To the exquisitely civilised Albert, the snake represented eternal love. Queen Alexandra, their daughter-in-law and King Edward's wife, was seldom seen without her serpent bracelet. Medusa has featured in antique jewellery since the days of the Ancient Greeks.
Oriental societies have often worshipped snakes, who are commonly represented in their jewelry. Whatever the sentiment behind the creature, whatever it's significance, you can choose to interpret snakes however you wish to do so. We love the mystique and beauty of form that these reptiles represent.
Snakes are often associated with infinity. There is a special form of snake, with its tail in its mouth, forming an unbroken ring and symbolising eternity. This image was used very often in jewelry and is known as an Ouroboros or Uroboros.
Snakes were so commonly used in Georgian and Victorian jewelry, that often there was a short-hand of symbols without the full snake being represented. For example, many jewels had a 'scaly' surface - enough to depict the entire being for those who understood the meaning of the symbol. A snake-like chain without a head or tail terminal was still clearly a snake in the eyes of those who saw them during that period.
In jewellery, we often look for designs that are elongated, swirling, coiling, perhaps assymetrical, yet coming to full circle in the end. What better way to express all of these qualities than by a snake? The whiplash, elongated, curling forms of the Art Nouveau style clearly hint at these reptiles. Rene Lalique used snakes ubiquitously in his remarkable designs. The famous bracelet-ring designed for the great French actress Sarah Bernhardt by Alphonse Mucha and made by Fouquet has gone down in history and inspired many similar pieces.
Snake jewellery comes in every form and shape and uses every material imaginable. Our antique pieces are usually gold, whether white or yellow, but often later examples of antique jewelery will be in platinum. This is our personal choice and in no way reflects a limitation on the subject.
#6327 snake ring.